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Preparing Your House for a Move: An Interview with Mike Tae of E-Z Movers Inc.

By Kristen Bosse

Please describe a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

E-Z Movers was founded in 1997, so this is our 16th year in business. We aren't a subsidiary or agent for a major national van line so we are considered an independent moving company. However, we are one of the largest independent moving companies in Illinois and always are in the top 10 in the state for volume of business. There are over 300 moving companies in Illinois so that's a pretty deep field. But because of the size of our staff and equipment we are able to provide the range and quality of service that you would get from any national company, or even better. We provide not only local moving services in the Chicago area, but interstate services from and to anywhere in the continental US as well. We try to cover all the bases so we can use our own staff to perform most services related to relocating a customer including packing, disassembly, reassembly, unpacking, custom crating and short and long term storage. If there are any specialty services that a client needs we have a network of third party services that we can utilize or to which we can refer a client such as auto shippers, pool table servicing, or even licensed plumbers and electricians. Also we try to do our part in giving back to our community, since of course we wouldn't exist without it; and we think we've found a worthy cause that fits right in with our color scheme. We are now a 3-year sponsor and supporter of the Chicagoland Area Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Our pink trucks help bring awareness to their organization and their efforts to find a cure for breast cancer. We donate a portion of every move to their organization and are gold sponsors of their annual Chicagoland Race for the Cure. We also provide moving labor services to facilitate the race. We feel that it's the responsibility of any successful company to find a way to give back to the community that supports them and to help a cause that needs our support.

You seem to have a lot of useful tools on your website including a consumer guide, moving tips, etc. Have you received positive feedback on the website thus far?

We definitely do and it is very gratifying to know that our efforts are appreciated by potential clients. Our field of work is not exactly as reliant on cutting edge, high powered technology of say banking or cellular service. Our product is measured more in the sweat and worn hands of our workers and in the satisfaction of our clients. Still we take great measures to try and make our website very user friendly and to provide real useful industry information, regardless of whether someone ends up using our services. We want to help set a culture of educating clients on what to expect from moving companies and how to make their relocation go the way that can work for them. Everyone's situation is a little different so some things can work better one way or another depending where a person's flexibilities lie. Moving is never really all that easy, even if we make the physical part of it easy for you. It's a stressful time for just about anyone and the more surprises that can be taken out of the process, the better. If a consumer books with another company but they learned a few things from reading our site that helped them have a better experience, that's better than them getting soured to our industry altogether because they were ill prepared to deal with a moving company or someone took advantage of them. I do believe that things tend to work in a circle.

What is your specific position at E-Z Movers?

Well my title is office manager but we all try to lend a hand wherever we are needed. Our owner/president is very hands-on, so essentially he's the living and breathing head of our operation. I oversee most of the office, administrative and sales staff along with a sales floor manager and we have an operations manager that oversees all the moving staff and equipment. He also acts as our long distance manager, which makes him a pretty busy guy. We have a small office staff of around 25, but all of our jobs are pretty integral to our success as a whole. The chain of command is short so things don't get bogged down in a lot of red tape. Most everyone is within shouting distance basically, although we try not to shout too much.

How did you get into this line of work?

Back in 1998 I was leaving a job of several years where the work had fizzled out. I had some friends that were working as movers for a couple different companies and I figured it might do me some good to work at some physically hard labor while I figured out what I wanted to do next. So I went to work at E-Z Movers which had only opened less than a year prior, so of course it was much smaller. We operated out of a small store front and had four or five crews of guys, maybe less. I started as a helper and quickly moved up to foreman since I had a knack for sales and customer service. I did that for almost two years, basically spanning across two moving seasons. At the end of the second summer I told the owner I enjoyed my time there but had my fill of the hard labor of the moving business. He then asked me to stay on as a sales rep, answering phone calls and booking jobs. And the rest is history. I did inside sales for a year or so, and then started doing visual estimates. That job I did for a few years. As we grew and took on more sales people I became sales manager and as we took on more office staff that just turned into me being the office manager.

Do you believe that moving services are truly necessary for the average homeowner?

Yes, absolutely and even more so as time goes on. When I was a kid we moved a lot, and we mostly moved ourselves with the help of friends. We lived paycheck to paycheck and we could better afford time and energy than extra cash. But as we accumulated goods and had just a little bit more money it made more sense to spend some on movers, at least to aid us in our move if not to perform the whole job. Now 20+ years later time is at that much more of a premium. My wife and I both work full-time and we have two young children. The idea of moving is actually frightening, and the idea of doing all of it ourselves or enlisting friends to help seems like a near impossibility. We don't have a lot of money to throw around that's for sure. But hiring movers is about as well spent a dollar as I can imagine. I think many people are either in similar circumstances or at least feel the same way as I do. Many times when I explain how much it costs to even perform all of their packing services as well they are eager to take advantage. Really who has extra hours, days and even weeks to spend doing this stuff?

What sets your moving services apart from competition in your area?

Since there are so many companies in highly populated areas like Chicago, there's always going to be others out there that are very similar. In price, in size, in service; there's a reason they're called competition. Some of the more important distinguishing factors are the little things; things that aren't always on people's minds when they're shopping for a mover. For example, we like to keep things as simplistic as possible and explain everything in as plain terms as possible. Instead of putting some of the more sensitive stuff in fine print we prefer to put them in big bold face print. Moving isn't rocket science but there's a fair amount of legalities and liabilities. It's a sensitive business to potentially pack and move just about everything someone owns in this world. It means a lot to people to know that we are on their side; that our goal is to help them get through the whole process of moving their home or business with some sanity and their goods intact. One very important thing that sets us apart from a lot of other companies is that we try to pay attention to the needs of our clients and adapt to the changes in our market and industry. We try to keep charges simple and easy to understand by not charging junk fees like fuel surcharges, warehouse handling, toll and mileage fees, and we've even started to provide most expendable materials for free on local service jobs. Very few companies provide that type of service and we feel it gives a feeling of security and a sense of ease to the client when they know their total charges will be based on very few, easy to understand criteria. We all know what it feels like to get nickel and dimed to death from companies of almost any line of business and it's no fun. Client satisfaction is a very high priority for us. We strive to maintain a very high rate of happy customers and have a complaint ratio of less than 1% on a yearly basis. We think that's why over 25% of our clients come from repeat and referred business. That's a client base that we value greatly.

Can you give us an example of a strange or a tough situation you have had to deal with while moving a customer in the past couple years?

Rarely does a day go by without some sort of tough situation presenting itself in this business. One thing I've noticed in my years of experience is that often times very little or perhaps no thought is given to how difficult it can be to move goods into and out of a building when they design it. Particularly with a lot of these new town and row houses they are constructing in the city, where they try to take advantage of space going upwards instead of a more sprawling layout. They put a kitchen and dining room on the 2nd floor and bedrooms on a 3rd level. That means major items of furniture need to go up several flights of stairs, and they build the stairways very narrow and on a wall with tight winding turns. It makes no sense except for the fact that it allows them more square footage for the rooms. Never mind that someone might want to put a queen or king size bed up there. Often times we will end up having to hoist people's furniture through a window or over a balcony. On one such occasion this woman had a very large, very heavy solid wood armoire that was built by her grandfather. She was desperate to have it in her master bedroom up on the 3rd floor of her new townhome, and it was most definitely not going up the stairs. She had obviously not given much thought to that fact before we got there and she was obviously quite distraught over the thought of what to do about it. Now hoisting a large heavy object that high is dangerous for the crew, for the armoire and for the structure of the house, like the railing and the windows it will be passing on the way up. As steady as you might lift it, it will still sway as it goes up. Even a small breeze can really get it going. But because some members of the crew had experience with this, they put a long extension ladder on the railing and used it like a vertical conveyor belt to facilitate the hoisting and made it as easy as can be. Of course the woman was extremely thankful for their efforts and tipped them all generously. If she ever moves that piece out of there she would hopefully call us back to do the job. But even if she doesn't I'm sure she will remember how it went up there so she can tell anyone that tries exactly how to get it down safely.

How early should a homeowner contact a moving services company before the day of their move?

Simply put you can't be too early but you can be too late. Obviously you can only schedule a move as early as you know certain specifics. But you can start your search for a company early so you'll know exactly who you want to hire as soon as you're ready to schedule your job. A company's availability can be at a premium at very busy times of the month so you want to make sure you get the date and time that works best for you by scheduling well ahead of time. Sometimes that means scheduling at least a month in advance. Most companies will offer flexibility in changes of schedule as long as you give them enough notice so you won't have to worry about it costing you extra to set a tentative date. If you plan to put in your due diligence when shopping for a mover you might want to start 1 to 2 months in advance.

What specific qualities should a customer look for in a qualified and reliable moving company?

One important thing is to be sure what you are dealing with actually is a moving company. Some entities you can come across, particularly in a web search are agents or brokers. Their company's only interest is in scheduling the job and securing a deposit. They will then sell your job to another company, which you had no hand in selecting. Even if the company they sell it to have good intentions it is likely you got a low-ball or incomplete estimate from the agent. So now the moving company they hired has to deal with the fact that your job will likely require more work and cost more money. Usually asking for references from people you know and trust is the best resource for finding a good company to work with. Start talking to a few companies and try to speak with them on a few different occasions. That will usually give you a good feel for the type of service you will receive throughout the process.

What are some common mistakes that homeowners make when hiring certain moving companies?

One big one is just going with the lowest quote you get. Try to compare estimates and make sure they're apples to apples. Any sales person can try to hook you by throwing a low number at you, but that doesn't mean you pay less in the end. You could end up paying much more in headaches, damages and lost time to go along with a grossly underestimated job. You might actually choose a good company that gave you the lowest rate but you want to make sure you got a proper estimate from a reputable and reliable company.

What is the best way for people to get in contact with you?

Well you can do it the old fashioned way and just give us a call at 888-917-8300, or you can check us out and fill out an online request at www.e-zmovers.com.

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3/20/2014

Jensen Mott

I like the question Kristen asked about Mike's website. I think a lot of moving companies forget to put a lot of focus on their website because it was never really important in the past. Online

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Kristen has written impressive content including press releases and feature stories...

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